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reusness in the spotless robe of virtue, as in the sketch given of the late Mary Robinson, in which we behold Mr.Prattassume the power of cannonization In the epitaph written by him, and inscribed on the tomb of that unfortunate woman, she is described as having ascended to Heaven? Where them is the distinction between vice and virtue, if the barrier shall thus be broken down by every scribbling coxcomb who can write an epitaph? A very reprehensible and indecent exhibition of living characters is also compiled annually, under the specious pretext of giving an interesting account of cotemporary merit, but which, in truth, is little better than a series of fulsome eulogies on several persons who are invested by the benevolence of the disinterested chronicler with virtues which they never possessed.
Such biography, however, did not exist when Dr. Priestley recommended the study of that useful branch of history, or it doubtless would have met his reprehension, as a device
of low cunning, to profit by the curiosity of the jpublic.
In the three concluding lectures on history, the Doctor treats “Of an Attention to Divine Providence in the Conduct of Human Affairs.” In a truly philosophic and masterly series of reasoning, the Doctor, in his concluding lecture, “Vindicates the ways of God to man,” by reasons the most conclusive and convincing. He is decidedly of opinion, that Divine Providence, “from seeming evil still educing good,” conyerts what we consider as calamities into blessings. “Let the person who would trace the conduct of Divine Providence, attend to every advantage which the present age enjoys above ancient times, and see whether he cannot perceive marks of things being in a progress towards a state of greater perfection. Let him particularly attend to every event which contributes to the propagation of religious knowledge; and lastly, let us carefully observe all the evils which mankind complain of, and consider whether they be not remedies of greater evils, or supposing the general constitution of things unalterable, the necessary means of introducing a greater degree of happiness, than could have been brought about by any other means; at least, whether they be not, in fact, subservient to a state of greater happiness.” This reasoning he elucidates by striking proofs from history, and concludes with an exhortation, that we should “Let the plain duties of morality be our rule of life. We see and experience their happy effects. But let us acquiesce in the Divine conduct, when we see him producing the same good and glorious ends, by means which areaptat first to alarm our narrow apprehensions; on account of their seeming to have a contrary tendency.”
His “Miscellaneous Observations, relating to Education, more especially as it respects the Conduct of the Mind,” published in 1778, are calculated to instruct both parents and children.
The precepts inculcated in this excellent work, are such as must improve the head and heart of every reader. A few extracts will demonstrate this truth.
“The great end of education,” as the author observes, “if it correspond to the great end of life, is by no means advancement in the world, but to inculcate such principles, and lead to such habits, as will enable men to pass with integrity and real honour through life, and to be inflexibly just, benevolent, and good, notwithstanding all the temptations to the contrary, from the examples of the age we live in. To
comply with the world; and, in consequence, to be the idol of it, is an easy thing in comparison with this: but then the advantages derived from nobly withstanding the prevailing vices and errors of the age, are infinitely more solid and lasting. This conduct makes a man satisfied with himself: it generally ensures the gratitude of a more enlightened posterity, and, above all, the favour of God, and a happy immortality.
“A man who lives to any purpose, must have one object, and have a consistent character.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“If a man's great object be the pursuit of truth, and the practice of virtue, he may depend upon success, and he will ensure the proper reward of such a conduct; provided he have no other object to divert him from his pursuit, and obstruct him in it. But he must not be disappointed, or chagrined, if, together with virtue and knowledge, and in his endeavours to promote them, he do not get rich, or become
“Let us, therefore, be satisfied, if we can make our children good men, and truly valuable members of society, whether the reception. they meet with in the world be favourable or unfavourable. If, however, their friends be few, they will be the more cordial, and contribute more to the real enjoyment of life. Indeed, their happiness in all respects, will be more in. reality, than in appearance; as that of the world. is more in appearance than in reality; and this exclusive of all respect to futurity, in comparison of which, however, every thing else is little and insignificant.”
Another moral tract from the pen of this philosopher, entitled, “Considerations for the Use of Young Men;” published at the low price of two-pence, contains precepts of the utmost importance to society.
“The experience of ages testifies, that mar
riage at a proper time of life, whereby one man
is confined to one woman, is most favourable to health and the true enjoyment of life. It is the
means of raising the greatest number of healthy children, of making the best provision for their
instruction and settlement in life; which is sufficient to demonstrate the preference of this to every other mode of indulging our natural pas8.10118, .